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Foreign investors consider Tanzania too bureaucratic

Published date:
Thursday, 21 July 2011

INTERVIEW. Despite efforts being taken by Tanzania to fight corruption, a number of international investors still regard the country as full of bureaucracy to do business in. Our Reporter Beatus Kagashe interviewed Tanzania’s ambassador to the US, Ms Mwanaidi Maajar, on what is being done to promote trade and attract investments and tourists from the world’s largest economy.

What is the level of economic diplomacy between Tanzania and the USA?

So far, the economic relationship between the two countries is smooth and this makes Tanzania to be regarded as a good example with regard to how to handle issues pertaining to economic diplomacy with the world’s largest economy.

The two countries are now working to sensitise trade, investments and tourist flows between them. They also aim at fostering cooperation through improved governance by empowering government institutions as well as non-governmental organisations and civil society organisations – hoping that the move will help to foster economic growth in Tanzania.

Being an ambassador, my duty is to make sure that what is happening in Tanzania in terms of good governance, democracy and political stability is being publicised in the USA. I hope these are the issues that every investor looks at before deciding to invest in any country. I do this because I understand we are in a time when developing countries are competing for economic diplomacy with the developed world. However, our status can be viewed in the way donors listen to our needs before deciding to give us their money. A good example is the Millennium Challenge Account of the USAID.

But do we have a special strategy to attract American investors to our country?

Sure, there are many efforts being done which have shown some positive results. We have witnessed the number of American investors increasing during the past few years and this has been possible due to joint efforts between among various government agencies including my office. However, it should also be understood that Tanzania is not well known in the USA and therefore, a lot still needs to be done.

In the same vein, we also need to cherish our peaceful nature as Americans will not invest in any country that is laden with scandals and notorious for poor governance. Otherwise, small issues are not news to them. We surely need to work hard to make our country known there. At one time I had a lecture at the Senate and senators were surprised to note that Mount Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania. The issue regarding Serengeti Road has made us known to some extent as everyone is curious to understand where the land of Serengeti is.

In February, we had a tour of 22 delegates from USA, 16 of them were chief executive officers of different companies who were invited to come and see investment opportunities in the country. The mission was called ‘Discover Tanzania 2011’ and it has been of big success because some are finalising plans to invest in the country while others struck memoranda of understanding with some local investors. We hope a lot more will come out of that visit.

What specific areas that Tanzanian businesses can benefit from this relationship?

There are many opportunities in the USA but we have not utilised them effectively. However, those that have tried, especially in the textile sector, are doing better.

Tanzania is among countries that have not effectively utilised the Agoa initiative. What should be done for us to benefit more from the duty and quota free market?

First, let me agree with you that we have not utilised the Agoa [African Growth and Opportunity Act] and this is because our private sector is not strong enough to produce high-quality products that meet the requirements of an international market. However, we have products like green label tea, which contains all the criteria to do well in the US market.

The US is now planning to launch a trade protocol in East Africa, eying an expanded market of more than 200 million people. To the USA, East Africa is more than just Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and goes as far as the Democratic Republic Congo and South Sudan.

What should the government do?

Despite a number of efforts being taken by the government to curb corruption, a number of international investors still regard Tanzania as a country that is too bureaucratic to do business in. The government needs to work on this.

“ Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available on

Click here to view a sector profile of Tanzania's bilateral trade with the United States, disaggregated by total exports and imports, AGOA exports and GSP exports.

Other regularly updated trade statistics on include: (click each link to view)

  • AGOA-Beneficiary Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Aggregates

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.

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